The first train to leave Swanage Railway since 1972 departed at 10.23am on 13 June carrying proud volunteers and workers.
The historic and inaugural train service to link Swanage and Corfe Castle with the main line at Wareham took place on Tuesday 13 June and set off from Swanage Railway’s platform 1 at 10.23am.
The last time a train had run on service the whole length of the line was in January 1972, after which, British Rail controversially withdrew the service and demolished the line.
So, after all that time and a great deal of blood, sweat and tears of the volunteers, and years of fundraising and putting the railway back piece by piece, it was a proud moment for everyone involved in Swanage Railway and the trust on 13 June.
The first train marked the start of a two-year trial public service using diesel trains operating on 60 days during the summer, with four trains each way per day between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage.
Onboard to make the historic journey were many of the volunteers and officers of the railway and trust, including a founder volunteer who helped to rebuild the Swanage Railway from nothing. Peter Frost was 13 years old and living in Corfe Castle when British Rail controversially closed the ten-mile branch line from Swanage to Wareham.
As well as Peter, Swanage town crier Andrew Fleming and the media including mags4dorset’s Carol Waterkeyn and student placement Jess Boyd were on board.
Valerie Travers, was also taking that first train. She has been working at the train station gift shop for eight years and was very pleased about the outcome of all the hard work. “It’s very rewarding,” she said. “And it’s lovely because my gran was on the last train in 1972 and I’m here on the first one today.”
She explained that the line has been given a two-year trial and everyone hopes for it to remain after this. “Too much hard work has gone into this for it not to continue. They’ve all worked very, very hard and a lot of money and time has gone into it. I think it’s going to be amazing.”
Phil Dominey of SW Trains commented, ”As the stakeholder manager I have been liaising with the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership for 20 years and I was on the last two trains in 1972. I think it is fantastic both professionally and personally that everyone has literally pulled together and this is the start of a new era.”
Chairman Gavin Johns added, “It is a great day for the railway – a red letter day to be offering public services for the first time since 1972 … It’s a day of great pride.”
Jacqui Hagger, who also works for Swanage Railway Station as a trustee, in passenger service and on the Wessex Belle dining train, commented, “It’s quite an achievement – the finalisation of what the railway has aspired to for so long. I think it’s well worth getting involved, and we always welcome new volunteers.”
If you would like to sign up to be a volunteer or require more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Swanage Railway